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As well as heroin, there are other opiates, such as morphine, Diconal (dipipanone), Temgesic (buprenorphine) and methadone (of which more later). There are also narcotic analgesics, such as codeine and DF 118 (dihydrocodeine tartrate). These all have legitimate medical uses, but are also used by addicts if they cannot get more favoured drugs.

They may be swallowed, or crushed and injected. The dangers are similar to those of heroin. Diconal, when it is injected, is particularly dangerous.

Methadone-Methadone (brand name Physeptone) is a drug which is often used to treat heroin addicts. It is a synthetic drug similar to opiate drugs, which was originally developed, and is still used, as a painkiller in legitimate medicine.

Methadone has less of a euphoric effect and gives more of a zombie-like feeling than heroin. It is also longer lasting - from twelve to twenty-four hours. It is highly addictive. Many heroin addicts 'treated' with methadone become methadone addicts.

As methadone is legally prescribed, addicts could until recently get it relatively easily from some drug-dependence clinics. Unfortunately, it is much more difficult to withdraw people from methadone than from heroin.

Methadone is also frequently sold on the streets by addicts who then use the money to buy heroin or their favourite drug.

How it is used

Methadone is now usually prescribed in a syrup to swallow and less frequently in ampoules to inject.

How often

Most addicts on methadone are prescribed a dose which they collect at intervals and then use when they need it.

Health risks

  1. Overdose. If used in the prescribed quantities, methadone is not likely to produce an overdose. Even so, with addicts this is unpredictable. Mixed with illegal drugs (a common practice among addicts), it can prove fatal.
  2. Abnormal functioning. Addicts assume they are doing better on methadone, yet they are not really functioning normally. In that sense, methadone may delay their recovery.